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Part 11- Employment Practices - All About FurnitureTeams

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“Teamwork,” you may be thinking and possibly  gagging. Certainly, it is one of the most over-used phrases in the business world. But the fact remains that anywhere you are, in the boardroom or the storfront or the production line, it’s all about team. This week we’ll look at factors that contribute to high performing teams, and next week – some strategies to promote and enhance team development.

Think of the best team experience you’ve ever had. What made it a great team? What were the elements or factors that contributed to the positive experience and outcomes? Could you duplicate it today in your business? High-performing teams don’t just happen. They are almost always designed, planned, and carefully maintained and most importantly, the members of the team are all clear about the goals and direction in which they are heading. This may be why a rowing team may be one of the best and most commonly used examples for an effective team. All of the crew in a rowing shell knows the goal (to win), they are all skilled, they know how to get there, they know what they must do, leadership is shared and everyone pulls his or her own weight. Moreover, the trust is there that the guy next to you or behind you is also giving this race his all.

Peter Drucker of the Drucker Foundation, in his book The Leader of the Future, outlines what he refers to as “distributed leadership”-leadership that changes depending on the circumstances and environment. Drucker describes a time when he got a surprise lesson on distributed leadership while facilitating a workshop. In this example, he had facetiously compared a dysfunctional team with a rowing crew: “Eight people going backward as fast as they can, without speaking to each other, steered by the one person who can’t row.” He was promptly set straight by a rower in the audience, who asked, “How do you think we could go backward so fast, without communicating if we were not completely confident in each other’s competence, committed to the same goal, and determined to do our best to reach it?” When Drucker then asked who the leader of the team was, the answer surprised him. At different times, it was the coxswain, or the stroke (the oarsman who sets the pace and the standard), when on land it is the team captain  and of course at times it is the coach. The leadership of the team shifts around depending on the stage or the activity in which the team is immersed.

There are many types of teams. Jon Katzenback and Douglas Smith in their essential guide, The Wisdom of Teams repeatedly refer to the need for leaders to focus on performance as an integral factor in developing and maintaining teams. Too often, we develop teams without heeding such good advice. By focusing on performance, teams develop that compelling motivation to improve, to reach attainable goals-or to exceed those goals, and to scope out opportunities to enhance their performance. By keeping your team grounded to its purpose, you avoid the all-too-common phenomenon of teams existing only to suit the managerial buzz word du jour.

So how many business teams really are teams? And what makes a real team? A team that pulls in the same direction, a team that is driven by respect by its members for one another, and one that knows and shares common goals, is most likely able to function as a high performing team. But if you really look closely, many teams are the antithesis of the concept.

Sales teams are often notoriously set up to compete against each other. Instead, teams that are measured by team performance, with company goals as the driver, inevitably perform better. Business owners can eliminate that most common territorial issue of compensation competition. When all of the sales staff or production staff or delivery staff in the company have the same goal at the forefront of their minds: take exceptionally good care of the customer or client – that’s when everyone benefits.

By Dawn McCooey Author of the bestselling “Keeping Good Employees On Board”www.EmployeeRetentionTools.ca  

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